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City backs off on church restrictions

Published on

Journal Staff

Sarnia council does not want to get entangled in another court battle with the city’s churches.

City Hall’s planning department last week recommended councillors approve changes to a zoning bylaw to provide “clarity” on church-operated soup kitchens and food banks.

Those changes would have regulated such things as the number of parking spaces and guest rooms a church can have, as well as the size and floor space of rooms used to store food or feed the poor.

But councillors showed no interest in triggering a potential court challenge like that involving the River City homeless shelter and voted to table the recommendations.

“Why should we be determining the gross area of a church?” Mayor Mike Bradley asked outside council chambers.

The current bylaw, passed four years ago, prohibits food banks and soup kitchens at all but a few churches. That rankles the 16-member Sarnia Evangelical Fellowship, which wants the legal authority to provide such services at its places of worship.

Council agreed to consider at a future date reverting to an earlier bylaw that didn’t define accessory uses of a church.

 

 

 

 

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